11 Questions in 11 Minutes

A quick get- to-know authors Danielle and Louise

1. What is your idea of bliss?

Danielle: I’m going to say two favourites here.

  1. A) Losing myself in nature. Shell-collecting with my kids on one of Tassie’s beautiful beaches or a walk amongst an ancient forest is bliss to me.
  2. B) A good book or mag over coffee and brunch with no time constraints – on my own. This one very rarely happens!

Louise: Oh, it’s so many things. From the biggest to the smallest moments. I could write a book on it! One that stands out though would be the feeling of taking a flight and landing in a place that I haven’t been to before and hearing, feeling and smelling that place. I distinctly remember the way I felt when I first landed in Peru, for example, and felt the energy of the place. I was also an exchange student in the Czech Republic as a teenager, so I can’t beat the feeling I have whenever I arrive in the Czech Republic and head straight to the local pub for a traditional pub meal and a Czech beer! I’m a linguist, too, so I feel a great sense of connection and bliss when I can speak with the people in these places in their own languages – that’s a pretty cool feeling. (And I can’t wait to see how all this continues to influence my daughter as she grows.

2. What is the trait you least like about yourself?

Danielle: ‘Perfection Paralysis‘ – aiming for perfection – it’s never realistic! Especially if you are a working mum. I work hard to be happy with being ‘good enough’

Louise: My propensity for procrastination!

 3.What do you consider to be the most overrated virtues?

Danielle: Definitely obedience! (Don’t tell my children I said that!)

Louise:  Perhaps just modesty, because while important at certain times, excessive modesty can make people with amazing potential diminish their abilities out of fear of criticism or success. As Marianne Williamson said, “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you”.

4. Greatest regret?

Danielle: Maybe some sadness here and there about choices in my past, but overall no regrets. I strongly believe that you learn and grow from negative experiences. Everything that has happened in my life has brought me to where I am now.

Louise: Too few to mention. Really though, I know it sounds cliché, but I try not to live in the past, and I believe that regret is a state that drags you back there unnecessarily.

5. Who would be your nemesis?

Danielle: Hitler and anyone who exhibits traits like him. 

Louise: Dr Evil, of course. Silly answer, but I guess it’s for a serious reason. I’ve always believed in keeping my so-called ‘enemies’ close, because I feel the only way to influence people positively is to be there with them, hear them, and try to persuade them from a place of respect and friendship. We don’t really get anywhere from trying to shame people into agreeing with us. Plus, in the end, I kind of still believe in the good in us all. It’s why I’ll always have friends with very different viewpoints to me, and why I don’t really believe in enemies. Having said all that though, my partner has just returned from a trip to Cambodia, where some things happened that do actually require a lot more reflection on my part to consciously and spiritually process that particular example of humanity’s evil.

So, considering all that, if I had to choose a nemesis, it’d have to be an exaggerated, farcical one – one with whom being an enemy would still be fun – and who better than Dr Evil? I would give him such a glare; it’d be amazing.

6. Which talent would you most like to have?

Danielle: I’d love to be able to sing and play a musical instrument.

Louise: The ability to sing and play the guitar, preferably simultaneously! And to speak even more languages, please!

7. Biggest dislike?

Danielle: Anyone who intentionally hurts humans or animals. Simple really!

Louise: Intellectual snobbery. No-one is better than anyone else just because of the educational opportunities they may have had. On this note, even though I am a copy editor and language coach pretty well known for my knowledge of grammar, I really dislike when people ridicule or put down others who might not have the same skillset. Take people who think that people who use “youse” are inferior. To me, that shows that the people who ridicule are actually the ones who don’t really understand how languages work.

As a linguist, I see the existence of ‘youse’ as a sign of linguistic necessity, creativity and evolution, filling as it does the gap we have in the modern English language for a plural ‘you’ pronoun (we used to have singular and plural second-person pronouns in the English of Shakespeare’s time, for example, with the singular form beginning with ‘t’ – thee – as it still does in most other European languages). I wouldn’t use ‘youse’ myself, because it just happens not to be within my vocabulary, but I understand and respect the linguistic reason for it existing. Of course, as a teacher, I would explain to my students why they might choose not to use it in certain situations, but I would do that within the context of helping them understand the different language registers that we must operate in, and how within certain contexts, the use of ‘youse’ would awaken bias that could be to their disadvantage – but I would not teach its avoidance out of a place of superiority and adherence to rules for rules’ sake.

As with all things I teach in this area (including in the editing and consultancy work that I now do), I try to empower people to know what is appropriate to use in certain situations and why, within the context of the message it might convey to the receiver, so that they can make informed communication choices that are to their advantage.

I thought I was alone in this respect for the reason ‘youse’ exists until I recently met a person whom I respect greatly for his phenomenal intellect and knowledge of philosophy and language and writing – a man who, it turned out, penned a poem entitled An Ode to Youse.

So, down with intellectual snobbery!

8. Qualities you admire in a man?

Danielle: A good moral compass and a passion for a cause outside of themselves.

Louise: Kindness and respect for all beings. A sense of humour and a sense of the absurdity of it all (‘it all’ being our existence). Intellectual curiosity. Also, the understanding that although some things that are so, so important, they might just be not important at all. As Elizabeth Gilbert so wisely states in Big Magic“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise—you can make anything.”

9. Qualities you admire in a woman?

Danielle: A good moral compass and a passion for a cause outside of themselves.

Louise: The same qualities I admire in a man.

10. What is your best characteristic?

Danielle: I think it’s my ability to think laterally – ‘think outside of the square’. I’ve always got a big idea on the go!

Louise: Probably my ability to stay calm and maintain a sense of humour and wonder despite what happens in life.

11. What would your motto be?

Danielle: “Life is precious – live YOUR best life.” And another – I think I read it somewhere – “First do no harm’

Louise: Life is too important to be taken seriously.

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